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ACLU Opposes Anonymity For Border Agents Accused Of Abuse

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Aired 6/13/13

Government says accused border agents' names should remain secret in court, but the ACLU disagrees.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal judge to deny a government request to keep secret the names of several U.S. Border Patrol agents who are defendants in a lawsuit accusing them of abuse.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands near the border fence in Nogales, Arizona, May 2, 2010.
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Above: A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands near the border fence in Nogales, Arizona, May 2, 2010.

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas died in May 2010 shortly after border agents used a taser against him while he lay restrained on the ground. The incident was caught on video.

Three years later, a criminal investigation has not been completed, but in the meantime, Hernandez's family filed a civil lawsuit against the Border Patrol.

Citing security concerns, the government asked the judge in the case to keep secret the names of the agents in the case.

But on Tuesday, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, which does not represent the family, filed a motion asking the judge to deny that request.

"Only in rare and unusual circumstances can parties be allowed to appear or defend in federal court under a pseudonym, and so if agents are sued, then they should be identified in court," said David Loy, the San Diego ACLU's legal director. He said the government's security concerns are unsubstantiated, making its request unreasonable.

Loy said that apart from the public's right to access court records, transparency in the case is important because it involves possible abuse by law enforcement.

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